Lucio Tan's PNB eyes bid for UCPB

Posted at 06/09/14 5:08 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Bank (PNB) may make an aggressive bid for state-owned United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB), as the country's fourth-largest listed lender pursues growth through acquisitions, its president and chief executive said on Monday.

PNB itself has reportedly been an acquisition target of Malaysia's CIMB Group Holdings Bhd, but is not in talks with any suitors, Reynaldo Maclang also said at a press briefing on Monday.

The Philippine government is preparing to auction a controlling stake of UCPB as part of plans to recapitalize the mid-sized lender, with bid parameters to be released on June 10.

PNB is one of several banks linked with the sale.

PNB's board has authorized management to look into a bid for UCPB, Maclang said. He later told Reuters that the bank is likely to place an aggressive bid.

"We will study if it will be a positive addition to the bank, then we will go for it," Maclang said at the briefing, held after a shareholder meeting of PNB parent LT Group Inc.

As well as PNB, EastWest Banking Corp. and other groups have expressed interest in buying into UCPB.

BDO Unibank Inc., the country's biggest lender, and Union Bank of the Philippines in April were reportedly interested in buying into UCPB. When quizzed on the matter by the stock exchange, they said in separate statements that they were open to expansion opportunities.

PNB is also in talks to buy two thrift banks to fatten PNB subsidiary Allied Savings Bank, Maclang said. He declined to identify the two targets due to confidentiality agreements.

Maclang also said PNB is not discussing any tie-up with CIMB. The Malaysian bank has said it was looking to buy into a
mid-sized Philippine lender after failing to acquire Manila-based Bank of Commerce last year.

"We're not thinking of any merger with a foreign bank," Maclang said at the briefing.

Shares of PNB were unchanged in light trade on Monday, as the benchmark stock index edged up 0.4 percent.